In a coordinated effort to appear more popular among Latino voters, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his campaign insisted on a few last-minute changes to the candidate’s participation in a Univision town hall that allowed them to pack the event with fervent Romney supporters.
According to BuzzFeed’s McKay Coppins, the Romney campaign asked the town hall’s organizers to be exempt from a previously agreed upon rule that tickets to the event be given mainly to college students. Tickets to the event were split between Univision, the University of Miami, who co-sponsored the event, and the two campaigns, with both sides agreeing to give their tickets almost exclusively to university students.
But when team Romney ran into a dearth of college supporters—they gave some of their tickets to conservative groups on campus and still had plenty of extras left over—they asked for an exemption to the rule. According to one of the moderators, Maria Elena Salinas, the Romney campaign then upped the ante, suggesting that if Univision did not grant an exception, then they would potentially need to “reschedule” the event.
Univision relented, and the Romney campaign was allowed to bus in boisterous supporters from around Florida to pack the town hall and cheer on his performance. The result was clear to viewers, who saw Romney drawing loud applause at various points during his interview. By contrast, President Obama, who sat down for the same forum the following night, received far more tempered reactions from the crowd.
In addition to the ticket rule change, the Romney campaign also reportedly demanded that Univision retape the introductory remarks made by moderator Jorge Ramos, arguing that the original introduction made Romney look bad. In that intro, Ramos noted off the bat that Romney only agreed to give the network 35 minutes of his time, while Obama had agreed to sit for a full hour.
Romney reportedly refused to go on stage when introduced, instead forcing the network to retape the segment and drop the mention of the time differential. Ultimately, the two sides compromised and the network was allowed to mention the differential at the end of the segment—though it was lost amid the cheering of the Romney supporters the campaign bussed in to the event.
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